President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated his resolve to respect the maximum two-term limit in the Nigerian Constitution for the position of president, saying such a proposition is not within the realms of consideration.
According to him, the first person to attempt tenure elongation (third term) failed spectacularly.
The president made this comment yesterday during a bilateral meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the sidelines of the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda.
Prime Minister Johnson, obviously not familiar with the maximum two-term limit, had asked if President Buhari would run for office again, to which the latter responded: “Another term for me? No! The first person who tried it didn’t end very well.”
Buhari’s response drew general laughter from the audience.
LEADERSHIP Friday recalls that President Olusegun Obasanjo was widely believed to have attempted to seek a third term in office through a constitution amendment process ahead of the 2007 general election but the Senate President Ken Nnamani- led upper legislture killed the attempt.
On the issue of the leader of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, not being allowed to see his lawyers privately, the president dispelled such insinuation, saying the detained separatist leader was being given every opportunity under the law “to justify all the uncomplimentary things he had been saying against Nigeria in Britain.”
In a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, Buhari accused Kanu of staying in the comfort of the UK to cause trouble in his home country.
Buhari said, “He felt very safe in Britain, and said awful things against Nigeria. We eventually got him when he stepped out of the United Kingdom, and we sent him to court. Let him defend all that he has said there. His lawyers have access to him. Remember he jumped bail before, how are we sure he won’t do it again if he’s admitted to bail?”
On the keenness expressed by the PM to help Nigeria in the area of security, the president said helping to stabilise Libya would be an initial good step, as the fall of Muammar Gadaffi after 42 years in power unleashed his armed guards on countries in the Sahel, “and they are causing havoc everywhere, as the only thing they know how to do is to shoot guns.”
On the Boko Haram insurgency, President Buhari said there was serious effort to educate the people on the fact that only an unserious person could kill innocent people “and say Allah Akbar (God is Great).
“God is justice. You can’t take innocent souls and ascribe it to God. And the education process is working, the people now understand Boko Haram as anti-God, and not about religion.”
Johnson said he was delighted about the good news on trade between the two countries, adding that the UK was further reducing tariffs on some goods going to Nigeria.
He described the relationship between the countries as “very strong attachment,” adding: “I just want to be sure that we are doing enough. It’s a massive partnership for us, and we need to capitalise on it.”
The Prime Minister offered condolences on some recent attacks in Nigeria, particularly on churches.
PMB Visits Genocide Memorial in Kigali
Also yesterday, Buhari visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda and made a passionate appeal to Nigerians to be tolerant of one another and embrace peace.
The president toured the permanent exhibitions at the memorial and laid a wreath at the mass graves where more than 250,000 victims of the genocide were buried.
According to a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, President Buhari also paid tribute to the memory of the victims and prayed for healing for the survivors.
After the visit, the president told journalists that the lessons from his visit were the need for Nigerians to continue to be tolerant of one another, and for the nation to also preserve its own historical antecedents from the Nigeria Civil War (1967-1970).
“I went through all the experiences from 15 January 1966 to date. I was a governor, minister and head of state and went through detention. I returned to partisan politics and will finish my two-terms as constitutionally allowed.
“We fought a 30-month bitter civil war and we killed about a million of each other. Nigeria went through this kind of terrible development process,” he said.
Before departing the place, the president also wrote in the visitors’ book:
“Remembering the victims of this dark history of the Rwanda Genocide, we pray that humanity will never experience this kind of hatred, wickedness and violence to others because of their ethnic background, religion and beliefs.
“Nigeria is strongly committed to the prevention of mass atrocity anywhere in the world and believes that perpetrators of such crimes and their enablers anywhere in the world must be held accountable.”
President Buhari is in Kigali, Rwanda, to participate in the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).